: University teachers’ professional development: their identity development and ways of learning

Even though there has been more attention paid recently to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning in the international context of higher education, the academics’ as teachers professional development and learning has been underexplored. The aim of this qualitative research study is to identify the changes in the self-understanding of university teachers and the learning processes involved in identity construction. Life story and qualitative thematic interviews have been conducted with twelve university teachers who are committed to their teaching practice. In our sample four disciplinary fields are represented such as teacher education, law, business, and medicine. From each disciplinary field a novice, an expert, and an expert with a leading educational role were selected. Additional to the life history interview a timeline interview and a critical incident technique were used. In the narrative analysis the identity construction and the specific periods of the development of self-understanding were identified and compared within and between the three university teachers’ groups. The findings show that the self-understanding of the three groups of university teachers varies. Among the novice university teachers, a relevant turning point in identity formation is the university teacher with a student-centred teaching practice. Among the expert teachers enhancing teacher awareness and committing to specific pedagogical approaches are the key turning points. The university teachers with leading positions underline the learning-centeredness approach where they see themselves as learners too. The tasks and roles of educational development have an influence on the self-understanding of university teachers and these are important incentives for learning as well. Our study would like to contribute to a more elaborated interpretation of the learning-centred approach and self-understanding of university teachers, as well as to the sound planning of the supporting system for the university teachers’ professional development.

Keywords: university teachers, professional development and learning, narrative research approach

Year: 2019
Issue: 1
Page: 74-97
Mar 2019
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